Why some priests leave

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This article by Msgr. Stephen Rossetti offers insightful commentary on the important issue of priest resignation:

DECEMBER 18, 2017 – Dean Hoge’s 2002 study The First Five Years of the Priesthood: A Study of Newly Ordained Catholic Priests found that young priests were not leaving the priesthood in exceptionally large numbers, despite rumors. Rossetti, who published his own study in 2009 (Why Priests Are Happy: A Study of the Psychological and Spiritual Health of Priests), found that in that year only 3.1% of priests were considering leaving the priesthood. This represented a decline compared to Rossetti’s similar study in 2004.

However, Hoge compared those priests who did leave within the first 10 years of their ministry to those who did not, and drew the lesson that those priests who quit did so because they felt “lonely or unappreciated.” A feeling of disconnect, not necessarily tied to celibacy, but to a difficulty in adapting to the personal challenges of the priesthood, lay at the heart of their decision to leave.

Hoge’s study found that the vast majority of resigned and active priests (90%) enjoyed their religious ministry, but those who resigned cited personal problems as a main factor.

Rossetti suggests that exploring ways to build relationship skills in seminary formation could prove useful, as could more in-depth psychological evaluations of potential seminarians.

While personal satisfaction among priests remains high, a small minority every year are plagued by challenges and opt to resign. The numbers suggest the current system may be sound, but it could always use improvement.

For the full article in The Priest Magazine, click here.